I am not usually one for sad music. I understand its merits and I understand its beauty but I personally do not like dwelling on sad things if I can help it. Carrie & Lowell really changed that for me. It is a delicate album, a personal album and simply a stunning; album. Sufjan Stevens poured his soul into this album and I just can’t think of an album that showcases an artist’s ability to do that more than Carrie & Lowell. Every song brings a gentle look at Stevens childhood, one fraught with more strife than I think a lot of people may have realized. He tells his stories intricately all the while accompanying himself with beauteous guitar melodies and calm rhythms. Not only is the music fitting, but his lyrics are poignant, so much so that he had probably the best line of the year hidden on such a soft album: “You checked your texts while I masturbated.” I knew this was an important album the first time I heard it, but it didn’t really become important to me until I saw him live in Popejoy Hall. Quiet music performed live can sometimes be anticlimactic and not truly do justice to the recording. Stevens did the opposite and enhanced his album, thrusting it to a whole other level. He was enrapturing with the way he recreated his music on stage, making each and every sound that appeared on the record come to life. At times he made the songs louder and more full and at times he dialed them back but never once did he take away from any of his songs. Watching him then go to other songs from his discography just as seamlessly solidified how talented he was. It was one of the most spectacular concerts I have ever seen and made me realize the true power of Carrie & Lowell.